Pom Poko

Isao Takahata
Film // August 26, 2016

Before Princess Mononoke animated the war between nature and human, Isao Takahata, director of the brutal Grave of the Fireflies, tackled human encroachment through the lens of raccoon dogs living in a dwindling forest. It’s a sweeping drama: diving into Japanese folklore, borrowing elements from samurai genre films, and ending with a pointed political message.

Pom Poko’s disarming natural charm and its more fantastical scenes–such as an extravagant ghost parade–provide a buffer for the gruesome reality, where radical militant raccoon dogs kill humans. Takahata plays up this contrast between the whimsical and harrowing for something urgent, but relatable.